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ECOWAS Independent Experts Group discuss Suppression of Illicit Maritime Activities

Mr. Francis Omiunu, National Programme Officer, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has commended independent experts appointed to reflect on the draft Supplementary Act Relating to the Suppression of Illicit Maritime Activities in ECOWAS. He noted such an act was necessary to ensure that ECOWAS Member States addressed the threats of maritime crime, including drug, human, and arm trafficking, and to secure the waters of coastal States across the sub-region. Mr. Omiunu made the statement at a four-day meeting of independent experts held to consider the draft Supplementary Act Relating to the Suppression of Illicit Maritime Activities in ECOWAS in Lagos, Nigeria. This project was carried out in the framework of the implementation of the ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy (EMIS) in collaboration with UNODC through the Support to West Africa Integrated Maritime Security (SWAIMS) project. The objective of the draft Supplementary Act is to promote the cooperation of ECOWAS Member States through the strengthening of the operational legal framework to combat illicit activities committed at sea. The meeting was attended by representatives of the ECOWAS Directorate of Peacekeeping and Regional Security, the ECOWAS Directorate of Legal Affairs, the Regional Maritime Security Center for West Africa (CRESMAO), the Maritime Multinational Coordination Centers (MMCC) Zones E and G, UNODC, and by Consultants and Independent Experts. Mr. Omiunu noted that the meeting was another step in the continuing partnership between ECOWAS and UNODC in finding innovative solutions through cooperative mechanisms to address illicit maritime activities within the region. He mentioned that UNODC, as an implementing partner in the SWAIMS project, remains committed to supporting the entire criminal justice system, from sea to land. Colonel Abdourahmane Dieng, Head of the Regional Security Division of the ECOWAS Commission, recalled the adoption of the Supplementary Act on the Conditions for The Transfer of Persons Suspected of Having Committed Acts of Piracy and The Property. He said the evidence associated with the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government at its 61st Ordinary Session in July 2022 and the significant drop in piracy. Col. Dieng said that in light of the current situation, it is now deemed necessary to put in place additional measures that would provide a range of options and innovative solutions to address all forms of maritime security problems in the maritime domain through enhanced cooperation. He said the thinking in this regard found expression in the recent UN Security Council Resolution 2634 (2022), which explicitly encourages the Gulf of Guinea states to structure operations to combat illicit maritime activities and to develop their capacity to protect their maritime domain. Col. Dieng called for the dedicated support of the experts in the consideration of the draft Supplementary Act. The meeting ended with the adoption of the report by the participants and the following recommendations including those to present the draft Supplementary Act as revised to the ECOWAS Commission.

Source: Ghana News Agency